Sunday July 1, 2012, St Petri
Series: After God’s Own Heart Week 4
Hearts together are better
25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me.
I believe that one main reason why David became more and more a man after God’s own heart was because of this great friend he had in Jonathan. People after God’s own heart become this and deepen in this through deep friendship with like minded friends. To be people after God’s own heart we need to correction, challenge, affirmation and loyalty of a true friend. We need each other.
Something clicked into place when David and Saul’s son, Jonathan crossed paths. As sometimes happens between human beings, they just became instant friends who just knew they could trust each other in very tricky times.
Times were tricky as David the anointed King, continued the journey of taking up his vocation as God’s under-shepherd, or king, for God’s people.
Times were indeed “tricky”. David was now in direct confrontation to the present King, Saul. Saul was in trouble in every way – he was not doing well militarily. He was making big mistakes as a leader. He was a Father who lacked wisdom. He would eventually make a rash decision that would place his own son, Jonathan’s life in danger. Most importantly, he was spiritually mixed up and going down the road of unfaithfulness to his Lord and his Calling. He was becoming paranoid: with good reason in one way.
David was a major threat! David was rising to prominence by the day. He was the darling of the people. Ever since that Day when he faced off against Goliath and won, the people were singing a song that really highlighted the problem:
“Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands”! (1 Samuel 20:18:7, 20:11)
But despite all this self-interest, fear or shame, pride in self, envy, jealousy, even hatred, David had this incredible relationship of trust with the man his anointing as king would threaten the most, Jonathan. Jonathan was Saul’s son – the heir to the throne in human terms!
Somehow, these two young men from very different sides of the tracks, one a shepherd boy, one a prince, living in the most difficult circumstances put away all sense of personal territory, self-interest, fear of losing something and instead, practices true self-sacrificing care and concern for another – they chose mutual regard and respect – and a genuine brotherly love, when it would have been easier to mistrust, fear and spread that dislike around.
What a lesson for us Christian brothers and sisters in the community of Christ our King. In the pursuit of truly being a person after God’s own heart hearts together are better than one.
We need each other to be people after God’s own heart. David and Jonathan needed each other to navigate their way through often toxic relationships and circumstances that would have descended into innuendo and mistrust and the growth of fear among people if they had given these things an inch.
How easy would it have been for Jonathan, who was in the position of power, to just go with his Father and his supporters and disconnect from David, see him as a threat and work to diminish him. How easy would it have been for David, who had the upper hand in the popularity stakes to go for the jugular and muscle his way to the dominant position and thereby diminish Jonathan as a person.
But they did not go this way. Instead they committed to each other – to never let any of this kind of destructive behaviour come from them. They made a pact to protect each other from the malicious talk of others and to support each other through thick and thin. They kept this accountability with each other when it would have been much easier to let jealousy and fear ruin their unity.
So, can you feel the weight of this poem we have as our text? David writes this to express his great loss – his grief, his great sorrow at losing his friend and brother in the Lord – losing the person who trusted him when he did not need to or have to. Losing a brother who was so different to him and yet a man after God’s own heart, like him.
“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel. How the mighty have fallen! 23 Saul and Jonathan— in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me.Only together could these two brothers in the Lord support each other in their great heart’s desire to be people after God’s own heart. Hearts together are better for being people after God’s own heart.
We need each other at St Petri. We, from different sides of the tracks at times, still need each other.
Why? Because being a person after God’s own heart ;a person of courageous faith to overcome our giants, a person who is unqualified for the calling the Lord has given us, a person who bears with the mistakes of others and loves anyway: takes a lot of effort and requires the support and mentoring and role modelling of other Christians.
When it would be much easier to misunderstand each other, give in to taking pot shots at each because of fear of change or fear of what we personally dislike; when it would be much easier to add to misunderstanding and disunity by joining in with cynical words about others in our own church community, we are being called to look at David and Jonathan and do what they did.
They chose commitment to each other though very different.
They chose to be open with each other instead of closing off and protecting their territory.
They chose to put away any sense of being threatened and talked to each other to find agreement.
You can hear this if you look at 1 Sam 20: long conversations about what was going on, what they could do to follow the Lord’s will in what they faces and etc….
Friends we need to commit to each other as they did and as the Lord does for us. Jesus is our older brother who has committed himself to us and wills us to experience the great joy of truly sharing this journey with others in love and trust. There is nothing like praying, singing, listening and doing God’s work in a community where there is a generally held high value on support, encouragement and Christian love for you and by you. It is what we thrive in. But this kind of community spirit comes from actually doing the faith together – not leaving that word of encouragement when you could much easily criticise for another time or another person to do for you.
Can I urge you to think about his and take it to prayer and seek the Lord on how you can be like David and Jonathan at St Petri. We really need to work for this kind of unity as we shape up for God’s call to mission in this new era.
One of the ways we can do a “David and Jonathan” and be people who encourage each other to be after God own heart is by looking out for each other in terms of safety.
I know, as soon as we hear that term OH&S some people might go into a negative mindset and speak of things like ‘political correctness, and “nanny state”, legal cases and etc, etc. Often we might think that this whole safety push is going too far – to the point of being ridiculous. Often when we hear of extreme examples of safety procedure being undertaken in schools or in the workplace we just shake our heads in disbelief. Surely we cannot protect people from all accidents and harm all the time?
Just because we cannot be safe all the time or keep everyone from experiencing mishaps, accidents and injury at all time and places, does not mean that we should let those extreme examples of “safety gone too far” deter us from doing our best to keep each other as safe as possible when we are together.
We are asking all people at St Petri to take the OH&S activity out of the “it is all about lawyers and going too far” basket, and puting it in the “Looking after each other in Christ” basket.
We are asking each other to commit to each other’s well-being (like Jonathan and David) in the area of making our gatherings as safe as they can be.
We are asking each other to think about safety as doing what St Paul urges us to do in Philippians 2:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Friends, many hearts after God’s own heart are better than one heart struggling on alone, even with the God’s help. We need each other.
We need to commit to one another in even broader and wider ways including in this safety way, not to keep the bosses happy, or because we have to or to be politically correct or because someone told us to, but because it is one way we can be who we are meant to be: people after God’s own heart, “ not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil 2:4).